COVID-19

Coronavirus Live Support

We’ve created this live blog to update you with useful and relevant insights into the latest developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need any further support, please contact a member of the Hallidays team on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

27/03/20

Support for millions of self-employed individuals

Rishi Sunak announces world-leading scheme to support the UK’s self-employed affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Key elements

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.

Direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month

Latest announcement in an unprecedented package of government support to protect businesses and individuals

Millions of self-employed individuals will receive direct cash grants through a ground-breaking UK-wide scheme to help them during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced today.

In the latest step to protect individuals and businesses, Rishi Sunak has set out plans that will see the self-employed receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.

Millions of people across the UK could benefit from the new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, with those eligible receiving a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years. This covers 95% of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment.

This brings parity with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, announced by the Chancellor last week, where the Government committed to pay up to £2,500 each month in wages of employed workers who are furloughed during the outbreak.

Cleaners, plumbers, electricians, musicians, hairdressers and many other self-employed people who are eligible for the new scheme will be able to apply directly to HMRC for the taxable grant, using a simple online form, with the cash being paid directly into people’s bank account.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

Self-employed people are a crucial part of the UK’s workforce who’ve understandably been looking for reassurance and support during this national emergency.

The package for the self-employed I’ve outlined today is one of the most generous in the world that has been announced so far. It targets support to those who need help most, offering the self-employed the same level of support as those in work.

Together with support packages for businesses and for workers, I am confident we now have the measures in place to ensure we can get through this emergency together.

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.

To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.

The income support scheme, which is being designed by HMRC from scratch, will cover the three months to May. Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all 3 months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.

Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes.

The scheme has been designed after extensive engagement with stakeholders including the TUC, the Federation of Small Businesses and IPSE - The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.

Self-employed individuals are already benefitting from a series of measures announced by the Chancellor to boost household incomes and will be able to access these while the new scheme is being rolled out.

These include a strengthening of the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, income tax and VAT deferrals, £1 billion more support for renters and access to three-month mortgage holidays.

Notes

Further information and details of the scheme will be shared shortly by HMRC

HMRC will use the average trading profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to determine the size of the grant

This scheme also applies to members of partnerships

Before grant payments are made, the self-employed will still be able to access other available government support for those affected by coronavirus including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans where they have a business bank account.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-gives-support-to-millions-of-self-employed-individuals

Cashflow – Keeping the cash flowing

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grow it is vital that business owners think about how they need to manage and/or change business strategies in order to mitigate for any impacts which might occur as a result.

Many business owners will have, at some time, completed a Business Plan. The time is right to take this out of the drawer, dust it off, and to see what needs to be done to protect the business from any downturn in sales or impact on cash flows as a direct result of COVID-19.

Cash flow

Look at the potential impacts to cash flow and how, by taking action now, any potential problems can be managed. Here are a few key pointers:

  1. Carry out a risk assessment and list your plans to overcome any key issues. For example, are any of your suppliers/supplies likely to be impacted? If the answer is yes – what can do you to sustain your stocks? What does your current inventory look like - do you need to look for new suppliers - do you have contractual obligations to current suppliers? How is this likely to impact on cash?
  2. Undertake a thorough review of your cash flow to understand where the pinch points are likely to be. Don’t ignore potential cash issues - by planning now you are more likely to work out a plan which helps to overcome your problems
  3. Consider how you can improve cash flow:
  4. Keep a cash flow forecast – update it regularly
  5. Review all outgoing payments – delay any non-essential items. Review the frequency of when you pay suppliers – see if you can negotiate extended or more flexible terms
  6. Send out invoices in a timely manner and ensure that these are chased promptly. This is money owed to your business – do not be shy in asking for payment, it is estimated that 50,000 SMEs go bust every year due to issues with late payments.
  7. If you do identify a serious cash flow issue, speak to your bankers, or other funders, immediately. Many of our High St lenders are already rolling out plans to support the SME community with emergency loans and overdrafts – so get in touch sooner rather than later, Banks do not like surprises.

The key is to stay ahead of the game and anticipate problems before they occur – so don’t delay, act now!

https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/resources/2020/03/coronavirus-keeping-the-cash-flowing

Further businesses and premises to close

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolationstaying at home and away from others, and asked that schools only remain open for those children who absolutely need to attend.

On 23 March the government stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. All businesses and premises outlined in the table in the link must now close.

Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance on Friday 20 March. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Parks will remain open but only for individuals and households to exercise once a day. Communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and football pitches will be closed.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance


26/03/20

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Update

Please note: This guidance is still incomplete and the government need to issue further briefing notes on the detail.

Under the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the payroll, otherwise described as “furloughed workers”. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1ST March and is initially open for 3 months but will be extended if necessary.

All UK-wide employers with a PAYE scheme will be eligible – this includes the public sector, Local Authorities and Charities.

What we know so far:

  • If your businesses has been severely affected by the Pandemic and you were about to make employees redundant, the CJRS offers the alternative of “Furlough”. The ‘furloughed workers’ will be on ‘furlough leave’. During this time, they will continue to be employed by the employer, but they will not be required to work for a temporary period of time. The CJRS will assist employers by reimbursing them up to 80% of the wages of each ‘furloughed worker’, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. (We will update you once the government confirms whether this means £2,500 a month before or after tax).
  • The CJRS will run from April 2020 (date to be confirmed) but will be backdated to 1 March 2020 (such that anyone who has been laid off since 1 March and has not left the business under redundancy can be caught by the scheme) and is expected to run for at least 3 months (although the government may decide to extend it as things progress).
  • The current guidance around the CJRS talks about “reimbursing” employers for wage costs and so our expectation is that employers will need to pay their employees at least 80% of their normal wages during any lay off period and then they apply for a grant which will reimburse them. This means that employers are likely to have to deal with cash flow issues in the interim.

CJRS Guidance:

  1. Employers will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify those employees of this change and agree this with them.
  2. You should check employee contracts of employment to see if there is a contractual right to lay employees off if there is a downturn in work. If not you will need to discuss and agree with employees that they are “Furloughed”. This may involve a negotiation. Either way you will probably need employees’ consent. Given the alternative of redundancy one assumes common sense will prevail. Note if you have more than 20 employees whose contracts need to be changed a more formal consultation process will need to be done and we recommend legal advice at this point.
  3. Employers should notify employees in writing and explain why the decision was necessary (Covid-19 Pandemic).
  4. Please note it is solely the employer’s choice to Furlough and not the employee. If the employee requests to be furloughed, the employer can refuse to agree e.g. if there is still work for them to do.
  5. Employers then need to submit information to HMRC about those employees who have been designated as ‘furloughed’ and their earnings via a new online portal which is being set up. If you are doing this for the March payroll run you should keep a list of Furloughed employees and salary details.
  6. HMRC will then reimburse 80% of wage costs for ‘furloughed workers’ up to a cap of £2,500 per month, per ‘furloughed worker’. Exactly when these funds will be available is currently unknown. (We will advise you when the Portal is “live”).
  7. Furloughed employees could be paid 80% of their pay or higher if the employer chooses (bearing in mind the CJRS will reimburse a maximum of 80% to a maximum of £2500 per employee).
  8. In the government’s guidance to employees on this subject, it mentions that employers can claim a grant of up to 80% of a ‘furloughed employee’s’ wages ‘for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month’. This suggests that this covers thing such as pension contributions, employer’s NICs etc.
  9. Further information on this point is awaited so it can be confirmed whether employers can only use the CJRS grant in respect of an employee’s basic pay or their average take-home pay (which may, for example, include overtime and commission too).
  10. Employees should not undertake any work for their employer while they are ‘furloughed’. The fact that the employer is unable to give its employees any work for the time they are ‘furloughed’ is what allows them to claim up to 80% of the employee’s wage for all employment costs (up to £2,500 a month).
  11. This scheme does not seem to apply to those on short-time working (e.g. shorter days) or those working certain days of a working week, although this is not yet clear. We will update you when we have further information.
  12. Guidance is needed on whether employees can work “elsewhere” to make up the 20%.
  13. Further guidance is awaited on employees on holiday, maternity, sick or self-isolating.

Key points for employers:

  • Ensure that you document your thought processes and discussions when deciding which employees are to be designated at ‘furloughed’ - treat it as if it is a redundancy situation and think about how you would need to evidence your decision.
  • Consider if putting employees on furlough leave is absolutely necessary and reasonable to do in the circumstances. Again, make sure you record your reasons (in writing).
  • Ensure that you notify employees being designated as ‘furloughed’ in writing, giving your reasons, making clear any terms that will apply during this period, and offering reassurance that financial support via the CJRS will be available.
  • The CJRS is intended to be a reimbursement scheme so it is envisaged that the employer will have to make the payments to employees first and then seek reimbursement from HMRC.
  • Be understanding that there may be groups of employees that feel hard done to e.g. those who are genuinely sick with the Coronavirus, those having to self-isolate as a family member is sick, the over 70s and those in vulnerable groups who are only entitled to SSP or contractual sick pay (which may be less than 80% pay) and they feel it is unfair that those ‘furloughed’ are getting much more.

Guidance on business support grant funding

This guidance sets out details of eligibility and delivery of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding?utm_source=2a9a1b51-e733-4f91-8c5e-79efae582edd&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Details

This guidance sets out details and eligibility criteria for:

  • the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF)
  • the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

It informs local authorities about the operation and delivery of the 2 funding schemes.

The guidance applies to England only.

Cancel Direct Debit for VAT

Small reminder – if you haven’t already, it is best to cancel the Direct Debit for VAT.

Even though HMRC have said the next quarters payments are being deferred, they cannot guarantee it won’t be collected if the Direct Debit is still in place, admin errors can happen.

Guides for managing business finance

Whilst the Government have announced a business finance support package, it is unlikely to be accessible for several days (the loans via the banks) or weeks (the grants via the Local Authorities). Not all businesses will meet the criteria for them. There may be more to come from the Government, but in the meantime business owners need to act now, today. When they are available, contact centres will be short on resources, as banks and local authorities are likely to be at lower staff levels, so the funds may not arrive quickly.

However, there are many things business owners can do to take the pressure off themselves.

Banks to hand small businesses interest-free loans of up to £250k

Banks will promise to hand small businesses interest-free loans of up to £250,000 within 48 hours to survive the economic crisis. Business customers will be able to borrow a quarter of a million pounds from one of 40 lenders without having to secure the loan against assets such as property.

Small companies will be able to apply for larger loans of up to £5million under the Government's 'business interruption' loans programme, but banking sources warned these would take longer to arrange and may need to be secured against the company's assets.

Sources told the Mail on Sunday that Chancellor Rishi Sunak's emergency coronavirus loans would initially take the form of overdrafts.

Yesterday, bosses warned that they if they are to survive the crisis they face getting into debts that could drag down their profits for years.

Sir John Timpson, chairman of Timpson cobblers, which has 5,500 staff, told Radio 4 Today his firm would go from having £15million cash in the bank to £20million in the red – despite being a 'strong business'.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-8138635/Well-lend-firms-250k-48-hours-survive-economic-crisis-say-banks.html

Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19

Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. From 25 March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts.

This joint initiative between the government and Companies House will mean businesses can prioritise managing the impact of Coronavirus.

There are approximately 4.3 million businesses on the Companies House register, and all companies must submit their accounts and reports each year. Under normal circumstances, companies that file accounts late are issued with an automatic penalty.

As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
We have outlined a business support package on an unprecedented scale, backing companies and their employees through these challenging times.

But it is important that our support is not limited to financial assistance. We are determined to help businesses in any way we can, so that they can focus all their efforts on dealing with the impact of Coronavirus, and this new offer of a 3 month extension for filing accounts is part of that.

Companies House Chief Executive, Louise Smyth said:
We recognise that these are uncertain times for businesses and that’s why we’re doing all we can to help.

By easing the burden, we can help businesses through this period and enable them to thrive in the future. I would encourage companies who believe they would benefit from this new flexibility to make an application in good time.

Head of Corporate Governance, Institute of Directors, Roger Barker said:
These measures will be welcomed by directors impacted by COVID-19. Our members will be pleased to see government taking proactive steps to support them through this difficult time. By easing the administrative burden that comes with running a business, the government is supporting businesses to focus on the fundamentals during this exceptional period.

The government is also in close consultation with company representative bodies, legal practitioners and others, to look at solutions for the impact COVID-19 may have on companies’ ability to hold Annual General Meetings. Updated guidance on this matter will be published in due course.

Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction, the government has announced.

Many landlords and tenants are already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly but the government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.

These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.

This builds on the unprecedented package of support announced for businesses who are affected by coronavirus.

As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the government is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them.

Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, said:
We are protecting both people and their businesses by providing the urgent support they need.

We know many commercial landlords are already setting a great example by working closely with tenants and offering rent deferrals or holidays.

However, these new measures will provide reassurance to businesses struggling with cashflows and ensure no commercial tenant is evicted if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus over the next 3 months.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, said:
We are taking unprecedented action and doing so at unprecedented speed, because we know that businesses and their employees need help now.

That is why we are taking steps to change the law so that no company can be forced out of its premises due to loss of income. Alongside our support for workers and £330 billion of business loans and guarantees, this will help make a real difference to firms across the country trying to protect jobs.

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma MP said:
This measure will provide companies with an essential safeguard in these highly unusual times as they deal with the impact of coronavirus.

This is part of the unprecedented package of support we have put in place to protect jobs and livelihoods right across the country.

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, said:
Small businesses will wholeheartedly welcome the decision to ban evictions for commercial tenants for 3 months.

This will give piece of mind to millions of small businesses who are desperately struggling with their cash flow.

We know sensible conversations between landlords and commercial tenants are taking place - but having this legislative backstop to prevent evictions during the worst of the crisis will provide much needed peace of mind for many small businesses.

The Coronavirus Bill also includes new measures to ensure that Business Improvement Districts (BID) are equipped to continue their vital role in managing the impact of the crisis on local economies and helping town centres and high streets recover.

To ensure no area loses its Business Improvement District at this critical time, emergency legislation will allow a delay to ballots between now and 31 December 2020 until March 2021. This will ensure that they are conducted in a safe and effective way.

Simon Quin, High Streets Task Force Executive Director, said:
These are important steps that will strengthen town centres and commercial areas as they prepare for the future.

They will encourage retention of occupancy and ensure Business Improvement Districts can focus on support for their local areas through the emergency and into recovery. This will make places more resilient.

Further information

The amendment to the Coronavirus Bill on commercial leases will apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It applied to all commercial tenants.

The change will come into force when the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent. It will last until 30 June, with an option for the government to extend if needed.


25/03/20

Key Actions to take and Contingency Plans to make

These urgent actions apply to businesses and companies regardless of size.

This is the guidance we are giving to the many businesses we are advising, many of whom are now working from home and wondering where to start.

Last week’s announcement from the Chancellor set out a raft of measures to assist businesses which could make a vast difference to many businesses. Some of the detail which will enable you to access these packages is still to follow. There are, however, a number of actions that business can undertake to prepare for speedy applications and to prioritise what is most time-critical.

As you would expect, banks and HMRC are being very supportive of the businesses we are advising through these very challenging times. There are two key points that may influence the checklist below:

  • A ‘Business Plan’ for recovery and repayment will put you on the front foot – you should be ready to talk through this plan with lenders and creditors
  • Be mindful of any director, personal or family member guarantees that already exist for loans. New guarantees may be required for any government backed loan schemes

You should be considering the following:

  • Coronavirus job retention scheme for those businesses who have concerns around staff
  • Remote working/Early Holidays/Short Time Working/Sick pay/SSP/Travel Policies/Health and Safety Policies/Redundancies
  • Maintain an open dialogue with Customers Suppliers Contractors and Trading Partners
  • Time to Pay: Defer VAT/PAYE/NIC/CIS/MGD payments for pre-agreed periods
  • Defer Rates Payments where you are able to
  • Where applicable, claim new business rates reliefs
  • Maintain an open dialogue with landlords - agree Rent
  • Prepare updated Bank Facilities including Capital Holidays
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - with effect 23 March. These are loans, not grants – a business plan which details your ability to repay this will be essential
  • Defer Capital Expenditure
  • Apply for a reprieve on finance repayments in respect of Hire Purchases of Leasing - three to six months or more if you can
  • Improve and accelerate Income
    • Credit Control is of tantamount importance
    • Reduce the amount of stock you carry
    • Review your insurance policies
    • Review your contracts and advance orders
    • Review your routes to market
    • Review and where possible revise you T&C’s

There are many practical steps which businesses who are in a stronger position will be able to take either themselves or with their professional advisers.

Businesses which have either been exhibiting signs of distress prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis will benefit from speaking to our advisers, who can assist in many areas, including:

  • Cash flow management and cash flow forecasting
  • Working capital solutions
  • Communications with key stakeholders
  • Business plans and the necessary forecasts to support loan applications

Staying connected: keeping in touch during the pandemic

In our current world of working from home and keeping our distance, it is essential that you and your business are maintaining reliable and productive communication. For companies that generally rely on in-person contact, this can be a difficult transition, but your business needs to survive the pandemic. Here are a few key platforms you can use to ensure open lines of communication, and if you are uncertain or have any future questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Slack

Slack is the platform-of-choice for many businesses, organisations, and groups around the world, even in times of normal functioning. With messages, teams, channels, polls, reactions, and file sharing integrated into a seamless user experience, it is easy to become acquainted with and isn’t daunting for those who shy away from technology. The system connects with over 800 applications to maximise efficiency and even offers in-program video calling so that you never have to leave the platform. Slack is fully customizable to your needs and also has a mobile platform so that you can always stay connected. Slack starts out free for small groups and those trying out the platform. The standard business plan starts at €6.25 per user/per month when billed yearly, so the financial aspect is reasonable given the number of benefits and assets it provides. 

To learn more about Slack, check out this link:

https://youtu.be/EYqxQGmQkVw

Microsoft Teams

As a part of Microsoft’s Office 365 application, Teams provides an easy to use communication and collaboration platform. Teams integrates with all the other Office 365 applications such as Word and Powerpoint, as well as a few third-party applications, meaning that your business can stay connected in a variety of ways. You can chat and message in channels or direct messages, there is support for video calling, and there is mobile support so you can work on the go. The sign-up and start process for Team is a bit lengthy, taking about an hour, but provides many advantages for your business. To access Teams, you must have access to the Office Suite, which starts at €5 per user/per month.

You can find out more about Microsoft Teams here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/videoplayer/embed/RE4oa0P?autoplay=false&loop=false&mute=false&controls=true&playPauseTrigger=false

Fleep

Aside from its quirky name, Fleep provides many of the same vital functions as Slack but with a lower price tag: starting at €5 per user/per month. Although Fleep loses some functionality, such as fewer integrated platforms and in-program assets, the program is easy to use. It allows users without a Fleep account to be added to a conversation. This can be of benefit because that member then receives email notifications and does not require access to your entire platform. An added advantage of Fleep is its built-in tasks and work tracking function, which allows users to keep up on their responsibilities and for management to record trends.

Regardless of which platform you choose, you may be unsure as to how to continue working and making a profit in these difficult times. Feel free to reach out and get some valuable advice! 

Staying secure: managing your files during the pandemic

Every business, regardless of size or industry, relies on hundreds or thousands of files to operate and be successful. Because of this, it is crucial to find the file-sharing platform that is the right fit for your business. With the social distancing and lack of contact that is occurring right now, it is vital that your files be easily accessible by you and your employees from anywhere. These platforms and programs each provide different advantages, so if you are unsure which one is right for you, please contact us!

Google Drive

Google Drive is one of the most popular file-sharing and storing platforms, having been used by schools and companies for years. The full Google suite integrates with every significant application so users can easily share and collaborate on projects. Google provides a variety of file format options, such as the creation of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, but also offers storage of many different file types. One of Drive’s most competitive aspects is that it is accessible from any device and even provides mobile apps so that you and your employees can always stay connected. The main disadvantage of Google’s platform is that they have admitted to ‘scanning’ documents so that information can be used for personalised Google ads, so, if you are planning on storing highly sensitive files, this may be an aspect to reconsider.

Dropbox

Dropbox, similar to Google, provides file storage options from a variety of operating systems. With multi-device access and automatic file backup, Dropbox offers a comprehensive experience for users. Dropbox even communicates and integrates with other systems, such as Microsoft, Zoom, and Slack. There are a few drawbacks, however. Some functionalities - like link sharing, manual sharing permission changes, and remote file wiping - are limited unless you are a Professional or Business paying customer. Additionally, because Dropbox runs on open-source software, anyone can find vulnerabilities in its code. 

OneDrive

If your business already relies on Microsoft Office programs, OneDrive is perfect for you. Onedrive is designed to integrate with the team collaboration of Office 365 and exists as a part of the Office ecosystem. OneDrive files are accessible from any device, and even when offline, preload files are assessable. 

Tresorit

Tresorit is one of the safest and most private cloud services providers on the market. Providing features like military-grade encryption and public-key cryptography, your files are encrypted before they leave the device. No one, not even Tresorit employees, can read the data stored on their servers. Tresorit provides file-sharing similar to Google Drive but makes it harder to transfer file ownership and monitors who and when files are downloaded. Tresorit’s data centres are based in Europe and are fully GDPR compliant. 

Keeping your files maintained and secure is a big responsibility. It is always better to be safe, so reach out to a professional if you need help!

‘Avoid using microwave to get faster internet’

Offices, factories and schools across the UK have shut to manage the spread of the coronavirus. With the government now telling the nation to "stay at home", millions are logging on to work and keep themselves entertained during the lockdown.

But that has put pressure on broadband providers, with BT's Openreach reporting a 20% surge in internet use. To keep speeds up, media watchdog Ofcom has compiled a list of tips to get the most from your internet.

The national information campaign is backed by government and the telecoms industry.

"Right now we need people to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives," said Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden.

"Reliable internet speeds will be crucial so we can work from home where possible, stay connected with our families and keep up to date with the latest health information," he said.

'Don't use the microwave'

The advice ranges from the seemingly obvious, like downloading films in advance rather than streaming them when someone else may be trying to make a video call, to the less expected.

"Did you know that microwave ovens can also reduce wi-fi signals?" Ofcom asks.

"So don't use the microwave when you're making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online."

It suggests positioning your internet router as far as possible from other devices that may interfere with the signal.

Those devices include: cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos and computer speakers, TVs and monitors.

Ofcom also advises making calls on a landline where possible, citing an increase in the demand on mobile networks.

"If you do need to use your mobile, try using your settings to turn on wi-fi calling," Ofcom said.

"Similarly, you can make voice calls over the internet using apps like Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp."

The regulator also suggests disconnecting devices that are not in use.

"The more devices attached to your wi-fi, the lower the speed you get," it said.

"Devices like tablets and smartphones often work in the background, so try switching wi-fi reception off on these when you're not using them."

Other tips include:

  • Place your router on a table or shelf rather than on the floor, and keep it switched on
  • If you're carrying out video calls or meetings, turning the video off and using audio will require much less of your internet connection
  • Try starting those calls at less common times, rather than on the hour or half hour
  • For the best broadband speeds, use an ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router rather than using wifi
  • Where possible, try not to use a telephone extension lead, as these can cause interference which could lower your speed

Ofcom is not the only organisation taking action to maximise internet speeds during the lockdown.

Streaming platforms including Facebook, Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube have already reduced the quality of videos in a bid to ease the strain on internet service providers.

But the internet companies say they can handle the pressure.

Openreach, which maintains the telephone cables and cabinets across the country used by most broadband providers, said that - despite the jump - usage is still lower than the usual peaks it experiences in the evening.

"We're not seeing any significant issues across our broadband or phone network," an Openreach spokesman said.

"We've seen a circa 20% increase in daytime usage over our fibre network, but that's in line with what we expected and not as high as the usage levels we see during evening peak times."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52027348


24/03/20

Furlough Letters for 80% reimbursement from HMRC

An employee furlough refers to a temporary leave or modification of normal working hours for a specific amount of time. It’s a leave of absence given to an employee with the promise that they will still have their job once the leave is over.

Employee furloughs are becoming common practice in both public and private-sector organisations. There are numerous reasons why employers implement a furlough employee policy, such as plant shutdowns, seasonal work, company reorganizations and reduced demand due to COVID-19.

Don’t rush into implementing an employee furlough policy without talking to your lawyer or HR specialist first.

If you decide that putting employees on furlough is the best option for you and your employees, then you need to prepare a notification letter. Your furlough notice letter should contain the following:

  • Address - This is a formal letter, a furlough notice should clearly state the date, employee’s name, and their address.
  • Purpose – State the purpose of the letter. Get straight to the point. Include the employee’s position, department, reason for the furlough, and information about any changes to employee benefits. It is advisable to tell the employee that this action does not reflect dissatisfaction in job performance.
  • Detail - Explain what a furlough is, determine the length of the furlough, and communicate employee benefits during this period to employees.
  • Future communication - Offer a way for the employee to keep in touch. End the letter on a positive note.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) Is Now Available Through Participating Lenders

CBILS is a new scheme, announced by The Chancellor at Budget 2020, that can provide facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow.

CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

Overview of the scheme: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

CBILS: Key Features

Up to £5m facility: The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5m, available on repayment terms of up to six years.

80% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, partial guarantee (80%) against the outstanding facility balance, subject to an overall cap per lender.

No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme: No fee for smaller businesses. Lenders will pay a fee to access the scheme.

Interest and fees paid by Government for 12 months: The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees [1], so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.[2]

Finance terms: Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.

Security: At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. For facilities above £250,000, the lender must establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

Eligibility Criteria

Smaller businesses from all sectors [3] can apply for the full amount of the facility. To be eligible for a facility under CBILS, an SME must:

  • Be UK-based in its business activity, with annual turnover of no more than £45m
  • Have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.

Please note: If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

Notes:

  1. Some lenders indicated that they would not charge arrangement fees or early repayment charges to SMEs borrowing under the scheme.
  2. Fishery, aquaculture and agriculture businesses may not qualify for the full interest and fee payment.
  3. The following trades and organisations are not eligible to apply: Banks, Building Societies, Insurers and Reinsurers (but not insurance brokers); The public sector including state funded primary and secondary schools; Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisation or trade unions.

Access to the scheme

Full details: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/for-businesses-and-advisors/

CBILS is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/accredited-lenders/

Businesses should approach their own provider – typically via the lender’s website. They may also consider approaching other lenders if they are unable to access the finance they need.

Decision-making on whether you are eligible for CBILS is fully delegated to the 40+ accredited CBILS lenders. These lenders range from high-street banks, to challenger banks, asset-based lenders and smaller specialist local lenders.

Note: if the accredited lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

What types of finance are available and who offers which type?

CBILS supports a wide range of business finance facilities, including:

  • Term loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Asset finance
  • Invoice finance

Additional application notes:

Given there is likely to be a big demand for facilities once the scheme goes live, The British Business Bank asks you to please:

Consider applying via the lender’s website in the first instance. Telephone lines are likely to be busy and branches may have limited capacity to handle enquires due to social distancing

Consider the urgency of your need – it is possible that some businesses may be looking for regular longer-term finance rather than ‘emergency’ finance, and there may other businesses with a more urgent need to speak with a lender.

FAQ Briefing sheet: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/British-Business-Bank-CBILS-FAQs-for-SMEs-FINAL.pdf

A useful summary to compare business loans can be found on the KNOWYOURMONEY web site: https://www.knowyourmoney.co.uk/business-loans/?adgroup=1283130190738357&msclkid=a8404ad43be31c2515d914acb4eaf636&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Loans%20-%20Business%20-%20Phrase&utm_term=loans%20business&utm_content=Loans%20-%20Business

Next steps

Applications should be made to your usual bank or finance company.

We can advise you on making the loan application. There will be administration and information to collect before you make the application. Typically, banks will require three years trading results and a Statement of “Support and Resilience”.

Stay at home – strict new measures

Boris Johnson has outlined strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people unless they are from the same household.

He said people should leave home only to exercise once a day, travel to and from work where "absolutely necessary", shop for essential items and to fulfil any medical or care needs.

He also ordered the immediate closure of shops selling non-essential goods.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52014472


23/03/20

Special funding for tech companies that support isolated people

The government is making £500,000 of funding available for technology company's that create a digital support solution for people who need to stay at home because of coronavirus.

The funding will be available to those who can find digital ways to support people who need help during the coronavirus. The 'Techforce19' challenge aims to support those who need to stay at home for several weeks and need help.

Funding of up to £25,000 per company is available, read all about it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-technology-challenge-to-support-people-who-are-isolating

Business closures

Schools and childcare are only open to children of key workers.

Pubs, restaurants, and leisure venues must stay closed or they may be fined.

Food shops and pharmacies will remain open.

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus


21/03/20

Government support for businesses

On Friday 21st the Chancellor set out a package of measures to support public services, people and businesses through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The package of measures to support businesses includes:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

We will keep you informed about the details of each of these packages and how to apply. Be safe and stay strong!

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses are eligible.

Eligibility:

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Business owners may wish to top this up with the additional 20% if they choose to. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax Payments

The Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

VAT

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

INCOME TAX

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

If you are self-employed you are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

Industry Exposure Analysis Tool

IBISWorld has developed an Industry Exposure Tool to help companies understand which industries have high trade exposure to China. This exposure analysis tool will help you detect potential points of exposure that will inform your strategy. Our top-level analysis provides an indicator of exposure to early disruptions already resulting from the virus, as well as areas of interest for potential further research.

https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-insider/press-releases/ibisworld-monitors-the-coronavirus-impact-on-industries-around-the-world/

COVID-19 corporate financing facility

The Bank of England has set up a scheme to finance working capital by purchasing commercial paper from larger business ‘making a material contribution to the UK economy’. Businesses do not need to have previously issued commercial paper in order to participate. The scheme will operate for at least 12 months.

Mortgage and rent holiday

Mortgage borrowers can apply for a three- month payment holiday from their lender. Both residential and buy-to-let mortgages are eligible for the holiday. It is important to remember that borrowers still owe the amounts that they don't pay as a result of the payment holiday. Interest will continue to be charged on the amount they owe.

Tenants can apply for a three-month payment holiday from their landlord. No one can be evicted from their home or have their home repossessed over the next three months.

Insurance claims

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered. The government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres, etc., is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses should check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

  • If you're a director of a limited company with less than 250 employees, you can pay yourself two weeks of SSP if you need to self-isolate subject to meeting the minimum payroll requirement for SSP.
  • The government will refund £94 per week, maximum £188, to your company.
  • It will also refund SSP for staff of businesses with less than 250 employees for up to two weeks.

Further information

Read advice on how to apply existing income tax and corporation tax rules.


20/03/2020

Employment and wage subsidy package

The Chancellor is set to announce an employment and wage subsidy package to try to protect millions of jobs, with many firms warning of collapse.

19/03/2020

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees:

The Government will pass legislation shortly to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  • Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force.

We will keep you fully informed of any developments on when the repayment mechanism for employers will be finalised.

Support for businesses that pay business rates

There will be a business rates retail holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March.

We will keep you informed of these developments as and when they happen.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

Additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR) has been announced by the Government. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.

Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

We will keep you up to date with the latest news.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch shortly to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

Details will follow and we will support any clients needing assistance with obtaining this support.

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. Please talk to us if you want our help here.

Working from home – making sure your team stay mentally strong

With the Government recommending those that can, work from home, it is important to note that for some people it’s not the perfect set up.

There is the obvious advantage of no commuting and technology means we can have more autonomy over our time but for some people we will need to monitor their mental health. Put simply working from home doesn’t work for everyone.

For some people, working from home can put their mental health at risk, causing feelings of isolation and disconnection and the feedback and encouragement they receive form their fellow workers in the office can be critical to their productivity.

Working remotely may create a pressure “to appear busy” or to be online throughout the working day. This can cause stress.

So, what do the experts recommend?

Working from home is a new phenomenon for many businesses, so issue guidance and be relaxed about the results in the first week or so as people find their way.

Suggested guidance:

  • Guidance will firstly be about technology and then setting the parameters that it’s OK to work in the morning and take a couple of hours out.
  • Let people know they should set up a “work zone or space” and not the sofa!
  • Encourage “self- care time” for meditation or exercise. One firm we know does a group video meeting with a personal trainer 3 times a week for basic fitness (let’s be honest we are all different shapes and sizes!).
  • Hold a team Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facebook Messenger call or other group telephone call for 20 minutes each morning at 9.00am. Seeing your co-workers is a boost and just to know “you are all in it together” helps.
  • Encourage a down time of between 12 and 2 and no work after 5.
  • If you are not paperless then allocate someone to fetch and carry files to employee’s home addresses.
  • Go paperless.
  • Let people come into the office alone if they need a day away from home.
  • Send your people fruit and deliveries of “goodies” from time to time.

Read our ‘working from home contingency plan’ blog for further insights.

Are you a manufacturing business that could switch production?

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the United Kingdom as part of the Government's response to COVID-19. BEIS has asked organisations and partners that might be interested to complete the form.

The webform link for companies to register their interest https://ventilator.herokuapp.com/

It includes such items as air compressors, pumps, valves, electronics, industrial automation components, power, motors, tubing, fittings, sensors, filters and more.


18/03/2020

Industry Fast Facts

IBISWorld presents a collection of fast facts that outline how the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is impacting sectors across the countries where IBISWorld operates, including Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

Grant funding, statutory sick pay relief and more for SME’s

  • Statutory sick pay relief for SME’s.
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England.
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance.
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

Also covered is…

  • Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
  • Support for businesses that pay business rates
  • Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
  • Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Support for businesses paying tax
  • Insurance

COVID-19: Support for businesses


16/03/20

Construction site advice

There are 2 helpful websites that give information on construction with COVID-19.

https://www.ceca.co.uk/ - This is the Civil Engineering Contractors Association – If you scroll down on their homepage they have blogs covering; The impact on Construction and COVID-19 guidance for employers and businesses.

https://builduk.org/ - This is Build UK

Here is Build UK’s latest statement on coronavirus - https://builduk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Coronavirus-17-March-2020.pdf


21/02/20

The effects of coronavirus on UK Industry

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to assert control over China, the global impact of the epidemic is becoming ever-more apparent. Annual GDP growth in China has averaged almost 10% over the past four decades, and today it is the world’s second largest economy. Therefore, although the scale of the impact of COVID-19, which has forced large parts of China’s economy to shut down, remains difficult to predict, its effects have already proved to be far-reaching. Falling oil prices, global travel disruption, stunted Chinese consumer spending and interrupted global supply chains have all caused substantial disruption far beyond the source of the epidemic.

Although at the time of writing, the impact of COVID-19 on the United Kingdom remains relatively subdued compared with other countries, the highly globalised and market-orientated nature of the UK economy means that some adverse effects have started to filter through. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has stated that stress tests carried out on UK banks showed that they are ready to cope with a shock caused by a much sharper fall in the pace of growth in China than the one expected to be caused by the outbreak. Nevertheless, travel restrictions and reduced economic activity present a significant threat to the UK economy, particularly for industries that rely on Chinese consumers and manufacturers as part of global supply chains.

Travel disruption

The UK government has currently advised against all travel to mainland China, while some cities, including Beijing, are requiring people returning from travel to undergo 14 days of isolation in their place of residence. Meanwhile, several airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have suspended flights to and from mainland China. This is expected to weigh on the performance of operators in the Scheduled Passenger Air Transport industry, particularly given the timing of the outbreak, which fell during the start of Chunyun, a 40-day travel season that begins 15 days before Lunar New Year’s Day. Other industries dependent on tourism, such as the Tour Operators industry, are also expected to be affected. Meanwhile, an expected reduction in the volume of inbound Chinese tourists is expected to have ripple effects throughout a range of retail and hospitality industries. According to VisitBritain, Chinese tourists feature in the top 10 most valuable inbound visitors, having spent £657 million in the United Kingdom in 2018.

Trade troubles

Apart from the United States, China is the UK’s largest trading partner outside of the European Union. According to HMRC trade data, China accounted for 6.4% of total UK exports in 2019, and 8.6% of total imports. According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, the main product exported to China is motor vehicles, while car parts manufactured in China account for approximately 1% of imports from China. This has led UK car manufacturers to express concerns regarding the fallout of the outbreak, with Jaguar Land Rover warning it could run out of car parts at its British factories in March, while the company’s chief executive also added that it is currently making no sales in China, which usually accounts for 14.3% of exports in the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing industry. Meanwhile, yellow digger maker JCB has announced cuts to production and working hours, with more than 25% of its component suppliers in China closed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Several other major firms are dependent on a supply chain that includes China, and the UK’s accountancy regulator has urged firms with close trading links to China to report the full extent of the risks caused by the virus. UK-based luxury brand Burberry Group has expressed concerns over sales dipping in mainland China, with the company forced to close 24 of its 64 stores in the country as a result of the outbreak. Meanwhile, London-based bank HSBC, which relies on Asian markets for most of its profit, stated that it would have to set aside up to £460 million to cover additional costs to deal with disruption caused by the outbreak. Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca has also warned of the unfavourable impact of the outbreak, with China currently the fastest growing region for the company. Possibly the best indicator of the global impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is Apple, with the tech giant warning that disruption in China, which accounts for one-sixth of its global revenue, will lead to the company falling short of revenue forecasts.

Global shocks

The outbreak of COVID-19 has also weighed on global commodity markets, with oil prices having fallen dramatically due to the ongoing virus since they peaked in January 2020, with British Petroleum (BP) forecasting a 0.5% hit to oil demand in 2020. This is expected to have knock-on effects throughout the UK economy, particularly for industries such as the Chemical Product Manufacturing industry that are highly affected by on oil prices. Although the overall scale of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak remains uncertain, the spread of the virus is expected to continue to dominate global markets in the near-term. Avoiding a global pandemic is expected to be key to containing the effects of the virus; however, in the short term companies are expected to have to divert supply chains away from China and continue to adjust sales forecasts in line with plunging demand from Chinese consumers.

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Source: IBIS World - https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-insider/analyst-insights/swiftly-spreading-the-effects-of-coronavirus-on-uk-industry/


12/02/20

Coronavirus : Advice for Employers

The risk of catching coronavirus (COVID-19) in workplaces is currently low. However, businesses may be forced to send employees home and must also be prepared for instances of employees quarantining themselves. So, what does that mean for you as employers?

Sick Pay

Usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone has coronavirus. Employees should let you know as soon as possible if they’re not able to go to work.

You might need to make allowances if your sickness policy requires a sick note from the employee. For example, the employee might not be able to get to the doctors if they have been told to self-isolate for 14 days.

If an employee is not sick but cannot work because they’re in self-isolation or quarantine

There’s no legal (statutory) right to pay if someone is not sick but cannot work because they:

  • Have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate.
  • Have had to go into quarantine.
  • Are abroad in an affected area and are not allowed to travel back to the UK.

However, it’s good practice for you to treat it as sick leave and follow your pay policy or agree for the time to be taken as holiday. Otherwise there is a risk the employee will come to work because they want to get paid. They could then spread the virus if they have it.

If an employee is adamant they wish to return to work, you may decide to suspend the employee on health and safety grounds. In such cases the employee would be paid as normal. Alternatively, you could arrange for them to work from home if this is a viable option.

If an employee is not sick but you tell them not to come to work

Employees are entitled to their usual pay if you ask them not to attend work when they are not sick. For example, if someone has returned from China or another affected area and you ask them not to attend work.

If an employee needs time off work to look after someone

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with coronavirus. For example:

  • If they have children, they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed.
  • To help their child or another dependant if they’re sick or need to go into isolation or hospital.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off.

If employees have concerns for their health

Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching coronavirus. If there are genuine concerns, you must try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of your staff.

If an employee still does not want to attend work, they may be able to arrange with you to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. You do not have to agree to this.

If an employee refuses to attend work, it could result in disciplinary action.

How Hallidays can help

If you would like further advice on sick pay and supporting employees that are affected, please contact our HR team on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk to learn more about how we can support you and your team.


Useful links:

Xeinadin Group - Coronavirus FAQ:
https://www.xeinadin-group.com/corona

Government – Business Support:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Government – Financial Support:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding

Government – Business Support:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Bank of England – Financial Support:
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/news/2020/march/the-covid-corporate-financing-facility

Stockport Council Grant scheme:
https://www.stockport.gov.uk/business-rates-support-measures

Gov.uk: Maintaining Educational Provision:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

UK Lockdown – Further businesses to close and exceptions:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-Revised_guidance_note-_finalVF

Business Growth Hub:
https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus
https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/resources/2020/03/coronavirus-business-support-webinar-series

Health – updates from NHS
https://www.england.nhs.uk/news/

Health – Shielding the most vulnerable
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Travel:
https://media.northernrailway.co.uk/news/coronavirus-travel-information

Recruitment: – DWP and Universal Credit
http://news.dwp.gov.uk/dwplz/lz.aspx?p1=MQsDU1NjQ5MlM2OTA0OjNCNDJBOEZCRTJDOUJEOTc1ODQ0RTRCRDNDNzk4QUNF-&CC=&p=0

Retail: An update form British Retail Consortium
https://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/coronavirus-latest-retailer-activity/

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